Author: Angelkitty1 PM
Chapter 26: "See? You always know what to say when it counts."Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 27 - Words: 222,378 - Reviews: 181 - Favs: 44 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 02-20-13 - Published: 08-05-09 - id: 5279580
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I Have a lot I Need to Say to You
In for a little bit.
Out the same.
Incessant, annoying buzzing, like angry wasps trapped inside of glass.
Metal clinked off to the side.
A whistled tune stirred emotions.
Chasta blinked slowly to an unfamiliar ceiling.
Unfamiliar, yet she knew exactly where she was.
"You are one lucky, lucky girl." It was too painful to roll her eyes, much less turn her head in the direction of the voice. Something sharp stung her elbow. It twitched. "I heard it wasn't the same for some." Long, dark curls spilled into Chasta's view. Lenses on a pair of glasses glinted as they turned down. Behind them, sat emeralds mirroring her own. "Lucky, but in no good shape at all." Chasta tried to speak, only an agonizing wheeze could be managed. "Speaking will probably be impossible for you for a few more days at least, as well as any sort of movement." A pale hand reached down and felt her pulse. "I know, you're thinking 'why not go ahead and use an amplifier on me?' and I would, if you weren't Wyndian." The fingers left her throat. "The initial shock of the device would obliterate what's left of your brittle bones. We have to give your body some time to heal before we subject it to such a procedure."
Silence. The wasps threw themselves against their prison again.
The glasses went back. Chasta heard something, a chair being dragged closer and clothes rustling. The female sat down beside her. Sophia, she meant to think. "I'm not ashamed to say I'm glad you don't have the ability to interrupt me, because I have a lot I need to say to you," came her slightly firmer voice. Chasta tried to frown.
"Princess Nina is no longer just the Princess of Wyndia anymore, she's the Angel of Godessdamned Death. What the hell is wrong with you? I know you think you're doing some grand, vigilant thing for our family but in reality, what does it matter? Everyone's dead except for you and I, and they have been for years. I told you that in my letters. I said it didn't matter to me what happened to the royal family, remember?" she paused, let out a sigh. "I'm a 'wingless', if I wouldn't have been exiled, I would have been ostracized for the rest of my life. This is better for me! You may think being a doctor for the scumbags around here is a sad fate...but even scum can be thankful you saved their life." Chasta finally managed to form her mouth into one of distaste. Sophia ignored it. "Was it really so terrible being forced to live in castle Wyndia? Did you not enjoy three square meals a day? A bed to sleep in? To many people in this city, things as simple as those are but a fleeting dream." Clothes rustled again. She must have crossed her legs. "I know you did the Queen in. They said the stress of the younger Wynlan's black tipped wings was the culprit, but I knew better. While Wyndia mourned, your letters sang of joy. You of course never sent them conventionally, and never wrote anything more than mild distaste for the Wynlan dynasty, but you're damn lucky no one suspected you. I thought the King surely would, then lo and behold, here came more of your bubbly handwriting decorating my desk."
Annoyingly, Sophia was right, she was lucky. The King had Ethan's father Lucius glued to her back from the time she was appointed the princess' playmate until he was murdered. Then, astonishingly, there was an interval. She thought at first he might have been replaced with an assassin, or worse AG, since she couldn't sense a damn thing following her, but as time wore on, she concluded her "best friend" act with Nina had taken the eyes from her. It wasn't until after she offed Nina's mother she became aware that damn Ironsides might have been her ever watchful shadow. He confronted her after the funeral -that overbearing monster of a cat- and told her he knew she was responsible, but couldn't prove it. That same night, he had his hands full with an assassin aiming for Isabella. Naturally, she feigned ignorance, and he left with a warning consisting of an arrow out of nowhere whizzing past her head close enough to nick the top of her ear. It worked, she didn't dare to entertain a single malicious thought until Ethan had returned.
"I suppose it isn't all your fault. You were raised on violence. I remember Mother's tearful communicator calls, sobbing about how Father and Lyle were taking you to work with them all the time. At the ripe old age of six, you had already imbued more amplifiers than your little fingers could count, why in the world would you care about the soul of the queen of your country?"
Chasta's mouth twitched with the ghost of a smile. She hadn't had to refill her amplifier in a long time.
"I want you to forget about it. The Queen is enough. You aren't equipped for the Angel of Death or her counterparts. I've got room here if you want to stay. There's plenty of work in Chamba for anyone of any race, so there's no reason for you to continue this suicidal nonsense." Sophia stood. "I'm asking you as your sister, as someone who cares." Chasta stared blankly back at her. Sophia lifted her hand to pat her head, or maybe touch her face, then stopped as she must've thought it intrusive. It would have been. This was the first time since she was taken away, Chasta had laid eyes on her older sister. Sophia lowered her hand, turning away, "Try and rest. I'm going out for a few errands. I'll be back soon to check up on you." Her heels clicked against concrete a few times and stopped. "Think about it, Chasta. Life's too short, we should make the best of what we can together, as a family." A heavy door creaked open then shut with a loud, echoing bang.
Chasta closed her eyes. The IV attached to her arm filled her body with numbing relief.
No. The King hadn't suffered enough, and Nina...
Angel of Death or not, even if she had to use all the amplifiers in the world along with every member of the AG to get there, she was going to be the one to cast the final stone.
Leaves rustled, fell as squirrels tore between branches. Dust rose from scores of paws scraping against the forest floor. Roars echoed in the distance.
The catalyst for the commotion lumbered forward, bending weaker trees with its girth, its heavy steps quaking the earth. It stumbled, became a thick fur blanket against a large sturdy trunk. White mist poured in ragged puffs from a long snout, steam rose from gaping wounds. It struggled to stand, its beady eyes flickering maddeningly.
Nina eyed the creature from the shadows behind a patch of tall grass where she was crouched. She listened to its giant heart snap into a frenzy. Damn, she thought for sure she was being careful! Amber went up, followed a silver streak in the trees.
Gray landed on a branch above the suffering beast looking like one himself in the green light of winter's dominant moon. The creature's massive head went up, its giant jaws opened in a spit flinging roar of rage. Panicked birds clouded the sky.
Nina darted out of the darkness and shattered one of its front knees. Another howl screeched as it thundered to the ground. Gray's hulking body landed on its back, his fists went into the air. Nina appeared again in front of the beast grabbing both of the curled tusks jutting out from either side of its massive skull to hold it still. It tried unsuccessfully to throw her to the side, fearful rancid breath enveloped her like a fog. She grit her teeth, dug scaled feet into the ground. Gray's fists came down.
Cooler weather was upon them, but Nina could no longer feel the difference, only tell by the size of the clouds puffing out of everyone's mouths when they breathed or spoke, and the way the air lately was drying her skin out. She hiked their prey's oxen-like hindquarters over her head and peered through scraggly fur at Gray picking up the head. "Lucky find, eh?" he called back.
It was. They happened to stumble upon this one already engaged in a fight to the death with an adversary dwarfing even it. Somehow, he emerged the victor and had the unfortunate fate of meeting them. "Is it wrong I feel sort of bad?" she asked flicking her head to clear her vision of fiery tinged blonde hair.
Gray shrugged. Moonlight shimmered on the fur stretched over his ripped back. Whenever he was in beast form, his muscles always looked like they wanted to jump through his skin. "If'n it ain't him, it be some udda po' sap, wat diff'rence do it make?"
He was right about that too. When the hunting party included her and no Ryu, they had no choice but to aim for the handicapped. Gray wasn't capable of handing Nina if exerting herself caused "complications".
"Ya doin' gud tho' ya kno', Nina," he commended, "'Memba tha udda day ya couldn't even handle lookin' at blood?"
Something had changed in her the day she was introduced to the Kaiser, and that something grew stronger with every breakdown, every window he was allowed to step through. Ryu called it Des Kild'ros "the balance" between a dragon's "humanity" and their animalistic nature.
She made him repeat it, the fact the Kaiser had made her into an actual Goddess forsaken dragon.
There were definite perks to it. Winter? Where? She couldn't feel it; her body was at a constant comfortable degree. Heavy loads such as this one? Easy. It felt like a basket of flowers. Do a back flip, finish with a split? No problem, there were no limitations to balance or flexibility.
But hunting, fighting...or the crimson ambrosia coming out of beings who were hunted or fought... Therein lied the conflict.
Ryu said Dark Dragons had a more difficult time grasping the concept of balance because -since they were cursed to never be able to transform- there was no outlet for the "animal". It was forced to incorporate itself into their everyday actions. It was why he ran on all fours, and sometimes couldn't resist the urge to chase a moving object.
Blood was her problem. Heartbeats in particular. She could hear them everywhere, loud as if she were ear to chest with whomever they belonged to. Like now, Gray's rhythm was normal, but the pump was powerful...tantalizing- She shook her head.
"Do not associate heartbeats with blood," Ryu said, sitting down on a rock and pulling his shirt off. He wrapped it around his shoulder and collarbone where she had bitten chunks out of both. It was soaked through before he spoke again, "You'll have a much easier time."
Nina sat a few feet away from him, still licking his crimson from her lips. "And how would I do that?" she asked, curling her fingers around a rock at her feet and squeezing tight. She wanted to wring the contents of that cloth down her throat. The rock in her hand crumbled.
"Heartbeats are a person's other 'face'. My heart is calm now because I am. Yours is erratic because you're anxious. That squirrel over there, he's trying to look like he isn't paying attention to us, but he's frozen stiff, any minute now his chest is going to burst." He looked back at Nina, she swallowed back what the smell of his wounds conjured. "It's hard, I know. I love the taste of it as much as you might have loved a certain home cooked meal, but I've gotten past the point of craving it, so I know you can as well, Na'vie." He stood and flexed blades out of his arms. "Now come on, we're giving it another go."
Nina smiled. Na'vie meant friend, more particularly warrior friend, his soul pointed out to her. Apparently her breaking out of the Kaiser's hold without his help warranted a huge amount of respect.
"Boy, Ryu gon' be su'prised 'bout dis big ol' somebitch, I tell ya wat!" Gray called back. "Ya opposed ta tellin' 'im 'e waz right as rain when we's ran up on 'im?"
"Not at all!" she laughed, "Though I think he might notice the gore wounds on the underbelly, they're a teensy bit bigger than my blades."
"Dun let 'im look!"
"Roger! I'll guard it with my life!"
She was glad the monster's stench was strong enough to cover the blood. Just smelling the little bit dripping from those wounds was making her mouth water.
Their campfire glowed in the distance, almost there.
"Guard what?" asked Ryu beside her.
"The gore mar-ahh!" Nina tossed her share of the burden into the air and jumped back. Gray turned around. Ryu caught it with one hand, laughing at her. She slugged his arm.
And with that respect, came out a bit of the real Ryu; a mischievous man child.
"How many is that, five to two?"
"That's cheating, that thing stinks! There was no way I could smell you over it!"
"You can't say a thing, Na'vie, not after the rotten fish you carried to fool me."
"Oh come on, this is so much worse!"
"Negative, you insisted that counted so I'm doing the same for this!"
She made a face. It was a game they'd been playing all week, 'Sneak Up On the Dragon' (ever the creative one was he), where they had to both try their best to sneak up on the other undetected and ambush them. He said since they both had two of the best noses in the world, it would be perfect training. "This game is dumb."
He smirked. "You hardly think it's dumb when you get me. If I remember correctly, there was a little dance you did...I think it went a little like...," he kicked his foot out, spun on the other and snapped his free fingers four times, "where you said 'I. Love. This. Game!'"
Gray burst into laughter. Nina's frown disappeared and she looked away, covering her mouth with her hand to hide her giggles, "Yea...well...oh Gods..!" the smell on her palm literally knocked her off her feet. Both Ryu and Gray lost it.
"Don't lie, I can see right through you, Gray!" Ryu laughed, stabbing a smoking piece of meat with a stick and bringing it to his mouth. "You guys didn't take this thing on your own."
"Be tru I promise! Ask Nina!" Gray cried, pointing at her with his slab on a stick then taking a bite out of it.
Nina took three full bites of hers at one time. She nodded confidently with chipmunk cheeks.
"They're lying Master Ryu, I saw exactly what happened," Merybel said haughtily, sitting at a small table and chair she had conjured up for herself. She cut her meat on a plate with a knife and fork and daintily nibbled on it. "It was already almost dead when they found it."
"Aw really? I thot ya liked me, Mery!"
"Mery you're so rude."
"It's rude to lie to Master!"
Ryu guffawed. "This is why I like Mery more than anyone!"
Nina stuck her tongue out. Merybel mimicked.
"Oi Mery, dun be like that!" Gray cried.
The faerie flicked bits of meat at the Wyndian. Nina growled, teeth bared. Gray put a hand on one of her shoulders, Ryu the other. "Now, now, settle down puppy. Merybel stop instigating," said Ryu.
"That dummy started it!"
"Don't you have more important things to do than argue with me?" Nina asked icily.
Merybel crossed her arms. "Give me a break, I'm almost done with your stupid earrings."
"Speaking of that, weren't you 'almost done' two days ago?" Ryu asked the fuming faerie. "The more we stay in one area, the more-"
"-dangerous it is, I know that, Master, but I'm having to use my own energy the create these, unlike last time where I could simply channel from my realm. Give me two days at the most and we can get out of this place before winter truly hits us," she said with a shiver.
"Hate ta break it to ya, but tha part o' tha desert we gonna come out at, is a pola' one, still gonna be cold fo' ya."
Nina's eyes lit up. She forgot her quarrel with the faerie, "Will there be snow?"
"Aye, but ya ain't gonna hafta wait too long ta see snow, tha green moon be king for a few days now, I wouldn't be surprised if'n we see it t'night!"
"Really? I hope so! I've never seen it occur naturally!"
Gray shook his head, "I tell ya I seen way too much of it. Was born wit it fallin' on me head."
"Can I stand watch tonight, Ryu? Please, please, please?"
Ryu shrugged, "Do as you like, I'll gladly sleep."
Gray laughed, "It'll still be there in tha mo'nin, Nina, it be too cold up here fo' it ta melt, even in tha sunlight."
"Don't care, I'm taking Ryu's turn."
"Yeah, there's no need to talk her out of it."
"Aight, aight. I dig."
Merybel finished eating and dove into a tiny pair of ruby earrings lying next to Nina's sleeping bag after sticking her tongue out at her one last time. Gray and Ryu said their "good nights" and slipped into theirs. Nina perched in position on a branch high above the camp.
It wasn't alright for Nina to hunt by herself, she could, however, stand watch. Not much was able to get past her senses now aside from the occasional crawling bug. She'd already caught four bandit parties this week, two of which didn't stumble upon them accidentally. The routine was to find them and alert Ryu. She was to never fight, no matter how weak the enemy seemed unless he was near or it was dire.
Ryu killed all the bandits. He had to. None could live to tell about the black wings.
His ways weren't bothering her like they used to, and it was only partially because of the dragon inside. Killing Vahn had helped her understand. Because of her actions, there was one less thing for to live in fear of, and she lived in relief of that everyday since.
She leaned back in the tree, stared up at dark clouds bullying the sides of the moons.
The only precipitation to ever hit Wyndia was rain; temperatures never dipped low enough to turn it into snow. Lucius used to tell stories to her and Ethan about seeing lots in his travels; how it made the world look like the gods placed a sparkling white blanket over it, that there were few more beautiful sights than the emerald moon illuminating a snow smothered forest.
Ethan had always said they'd find one to look at, together.
She pulled her knees close. He didn't deserve the place in her heart she couldn't seem to find a more worthy tenant for and neither did...
No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't wrap her head around why her friend had turned on her. There had never been any conflict between the handmaiden and her family, at least none she had ever witnessed, and sure, the two of them fought at times as all friends do, but what did she do to warrant such hatred?
Chasta was introduced to her at the age of eight as a playmate by her father. Nina admitted now she only knew Chasta had come from outside of the castle, nothing of her family except they "weren't around". She had been wild looking then, Nina remembered, the young Wyndian had concluded she had played outside too hard, and her mother had forgotten to give her a bath. Still the girl was friendly, and seemed taken with her instantly.
Lucius would always follow them to the playroom, out to the courtyard...would stand outside her door when they were in her room. If it wasn't him, it was Ethan, always insisting on being part of their games, always butting into their business,
Sparkles flitted by Nina's face and she looked up. Snowflakes sizzled on her warm cheeks, turned to mist on the tip of her nose. She stood as the dark clouds surrounding her bottomed out.
Ryu and Gray made everything easier to bear, traveling with them was...fun.
Slivers of the moon's light cut through the clouds, transformed snowflakes into sparkling emeralds in the sky. Nina listened to the soft padded sounds they made hitting the leaves covering the ground. It reminded her of the white forest of death she had taken refuge in from the Kaiser.
Ryu was treating her like a comrade. Gray, an old friend. They laughed with her, included her in their banter, gave her a respect she never before thought she was honestly entitled to.
Patches of white collected on what leaves remained on the trees and on the ground where there were breaks in the branches. Nina scooped some up, let the powder that didn't melt, fall through her fingers. Down below the tree, a family of chipmunks scrambled to grab what nuts they could before they disappeared for months to come. Birds filled their beaks with berries from frost covered bushes.
And Ryu's soul. Her hero in a child's disguise.
Hero is a strong word, Na'vie.
"It's true," she said warmly, holding her hand to her heart. "You'll never convince me otherwise."
It made him uncomfortable for her to fawn on him too much, she knew, but didn't care. She couldn't help how she felt about the little guy.
"Tell me, as a child- - er whelp, did you ever make snow angels?" asked Nina, "I've seen pictures of children in books making them. I always wanted to; it looked fun!"
Snow never touches Drogen. By the time I was around any, play was a distant memory.
"I'll go make one for the both of us then!" she promised, jumping from her perch and hopping down branches to the frozen floor. On all fours, she scoured the immediate area for enough snow accumulation to play around with.
Shouldn't you be watching over the woren and my body?
"Those kids in the books were laughing like it was the greatest thing in the world!" she cried, breath coming out in puffs. Powder clung to her bangs, felt cool . "Come on, didn't you think it'd be fun to do with a friend?" She skid to a stop in the middle of a clearing.
I...never thought about it.
"Well now you can honestly say you accomplished it!" She spread out her arms and fell back into a mound of snow. As she sunk into whiteness, she moved them up and down to make the... She stopped, stared at the snow's menacingly dark creators looming above. Water dripped down the sides of her face from her dragon skin melting the thick flakes on contact. "...hmmm," she murmured with a laugh, blinking them back from her eyes, "No need to make wings with my arms if my own surely did it for me, huh?" No response. She made a face. "And this isn't very fun either, is it? Maybe I'm silly for thinking putting my back on snow would invoke a sense of entertainment unparalleled by anything, huh? Those human kids looked so damn happy though...," She cocked her head, "Then again, was it a drawing? Maybe it was a drawing, that would explain everything!"
There it was, that rare, infectious laugh of his. You are certainly the quirky one.
"Really? Me quirky?"
Something blocked the snow; she was forced to focus on real Ryu's yellow stare. "Who are you talking to?" he asked, standing over her.
"Why aren't you sleeping?" she asked him without getting up.
"Why aren't you at your post?"
"I was going to come back right after I made a snow angel, I swear."
"The book said it was fun but it really wasn't."
Nina sighed, "A book of lies apparently," she sat up, shaking off the snow caking her wings. "Don't worry, I'm alright. I fell on my wing a bit here just now, sorry if it woke you up."
Ryu sat down near her. "I wasn't asleep."
"Just wasn't. You never answered, who were you talking to?"
"Oh. That again? Myself."
He paused, "Talk to yourself frequently?"
Nina held out hands covered in scales to catch the dancing sparkles. This way, they didn't melt. "Ok, so a friend."
Ryu had his bare arms draped over his knees. "A friend."
"Yeah. I might consider him that," she said, looking past him into the forest. The gods' blanket was rapidly thickening.
His chin rested on the edge of his forearm. "Do you...talk to this 'friend' often?" he asked, eye swiveling to her.
She shrugged, "Depends." She knew he heard the skip in her chest.
Not once had they actually sat down and talked about the mental repercussions of them both harboring part of the other's soul other than the obvious dangers the Kaiser brought. Then again it wasn't like Ryu to ever volunteer talking about anything heavy. "Why?" her voice cracked.
The eye didn't leave her. Chunks of snow from the mound collecting on top of his now black tipped navy hair fell onto his shoulder. "Only wondering."
Nina reached up and brushed a bunch from her own head. "W-what about you? Got any friends you talk to?" His talked to her, so of course she assumed hers did the same. What it would talk about, Nina had no idea.
Godsdamnit he had to be listening to her heart's anxious rumba...
He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Would she? Yes, I suppose she would be something of that nature now." He stood, her eyes followed him. Since neither of them needed coverage in even this kind of weather, he wore only a short sleeved red shirt of Gray's and the torn remnants of the pants he stole back in Chamba. "Forgive my hesitation, for I am not used to that word." He spread his feet, did lunges to stretch his legs.
Nina stood too; he didn't warm up without a reason. "Need me to tire you out?" she asked, actually glad he didn't want to talk anymore. At least when sparring, she knew what responses to expect from him.
He smiled and fell back into the shadows, "I like that I didn't have to ask."
The dragon inside of her loved to interact with Ryu in this way. And maybe...she did too; he seemed generally happy when his blades did the talking for him. It was a game, calculating where he would be and what he would do next, and it taught her a plethora of things about him she would have otherwise never noticed. Things like: He highly favored his left side, his mouth twitched ever so slightly in the direction he was going to dash a millisecond before he did, and eighty percent of the time they traded blows, he opened from the back.
She turned and caught both of his blades in crimson hands when he fed that statistic yet another percentage. She kicked up, aimed to knee his chin, missed when he leaned back. Her black monstrosities threw her into the air in retreat, but the snow was coming down too hard for her to hover so she had no choice but to land back down. Hands, knees sunk into whiteness. Her eyes cut the air; she couldn't see a goddessdamned thing in this mess. She stood, a dark arm wrapped across her chest and grabbed her shoulder. She threw her head back, he caught it in his hand before it slammed into his face. Scaled feet went into the ground, white hands slunk back, gathered a good grip on the back of his collar. Ryu swept her legs out from under her before she could attempt to throw him over her shoulder and took her down with him on an adjacent snow dune. He rolled onto his back, held her firmly on top of him. Nina grabbed one of his blades before it slit her throat, broke it off, and whirled around to jam it through his-
Her ears pricked at something in the bushes near them. Both dragon's noses went to work sifting through all the new smells the snow was giving everything. Was it a woren? Smelled a little like Gray but...there was something else...an animal? The bushes quivered. Nina got up off of Ryu. Both crouched and disappeared.
A moan drifted between the leaves, followed by a weak, definite animal whimpering. Nina stepped forward, Ryu grabbed a hold of the bottom of one of her wings and pulled her back. She slapped his hand away, making a face. He shook his head at her and started towards the bush, flexing the arm with the broken blade to jump start its regrowth. Chunks of powder fell from the top of the frozen foliage as it rustled again.
Nina gasped and covered her mouth as the most wounded canine she had ever seen staggered out of it, holding the onyx hair of an unconscious gray woren girl in its jaws. It dragged her a few wobbling steps and collapsed. Nina exited the shadows despite Ryu's excited hissing to not. "Hey are you alrig-?"
She swore the dog consciously took a good look at her wings before it dropped its mouthful of hair and started gnashing at her madly. The woren moaned, twitched. Nina backed away slowly with her hands out. "Whoa buddy! I'm not trying to cause any trouble!" In its current state, the tan and orange furred wolfish dog wasn't necessarily menacing, especially to the creature she had become, but she'd heard stories of how protective man's best friend could be of their masters and this seemed to be no exception.
Ryu came into view beside her, dropped down on all fours, and growled something serious at the animal. It's head snapped to the dragon. Nothing more escaped its muzzle. "Let's go. We can't help her. She'll wake up and see your wings and we'll have to kill her anyhow. I refuse to be cruel."
Nina stared at the girl on the ground. One of her legs was bent the wrong way. "She's got silver fur. What if Gray knows her?" Bandits were one thing, but she'd never forgive herself for leaving a civilian out in this weather to die. "I'm taking her to Merybel." Nina said, defiantly walking by Ryu and gently picking up the woren in her arms. The dog ignored her, still staring intently at the blue haired dragon. "Grab the dog. He probably got all those wounds protecting her. Least we could do is help him too. If you say 'no', I'll conveniently not hear it."
Ryu snorted at the boldness that was starting to become the norm with her. "I hope you know what you're doing," he turned to her disappearing back.
The canine before him stood slowly with great effort, never taking its copper gaze from the dragon. Ryu couldn't help but smile a bit as it walked forward through the snow gingerly with its head held high. "I see you need no assistance," he commended to the little warrior.
It growled under its breath at him.
"Kittah? Kittah what tha hell ya doin' all tha way out 'ere? Oi, Kittah wake up!"
"Stop it, dummy! Let her wake up on her own!"
"I wanna kno' who did this ta ya right now, Kittah! Wake up—ow! Tha hell, ya damn faerie!" Gray clutched a singed shoulder and glared at Merybel.
"She's not going to wake up as fast as you did when I healed you last! I've been pouring everything I have into those damn earrings for the other dummy's wings; you're lucky I had enough left over to do anything!"
"I ain't gonna stop, she's me damn sista!"
"Really? Gee you've only told me five thousand times!"
"Both of you stop!" Nina cried, pushing Merybel and Gray away from each other.
"You can't tell me to do anything!"
"Dat's me sista!"
"All of you, quiet!"
Everyone turned to Ryu standing with his arms crossed and brows furrowed. "Gray, calm down, Mery's right. Mery, Mery, I'm serious, stop talking, and you, stay out of it you'll only make it worse."
Merybel's nose went to the air, her attention went to the injured dog. Gray reluctantly sat back against a tree. Nina did the same. She eyed the woren girl lying comfortably in Gray's sleeping bag underneath a makeshift roof of branches and Ryu's bag.
Kittah, as Gray had called her, looked a hell of a lot better than she did before Merybel got a hold of her. A broken leg, a shattered arm, two cracked ribs, a black eye, countless burns and cuts... Looking at damage like that close up, tugged at her heartstrings. If she was a day older than her, Nina was a curr's uncle. One of her gray ears twitched, it was missing a chunk below a gold hoop.
Gray's perked. "Kittah, ya awake?"
The dog's paws scraped against the ground in its excitement to get to the groggy woren. "Hey I'm not done!" Merybel cried after it.
"Kittah! Who tha hell did this to ya, huh? Tell me!"
Two blue eyes like the one Gray let stay visible slowly opened. The dog nuzzled into her hair with a whimper. "Huh? Wolfie? S'ok...I jus' was restin' me eyes..." She looked through long, scraggly black strands over at Gray. "Caleb? Iss'at ya ugly mug? Wh-what?"
"What happened ta ya, Kittah? What're ya doin' all tha way out 'ere?"
She blinked, paused, it looked, to get her thoughts in order. It only took a few seconds before she bolted upright. "Caleb! Thank tha Tigress! I was headin' ta look fo' ya!" she cried, grabbing his shoulders.
"What? What's goin' on? It's Ma ain't it?"
Kittah shook her head. "No! Well, ya...but..." she took a deep, shaking breath.
Gray's brow furrowed. "Whaddya mean 'gone'?"
"As in ain't nothin' left! Theys destroyed it all."
Gray blinked. "Who?"
"Few days ago tha Huntas came runnin' inta town screamin' 'bout monstas chasin' them on tha Hunt. These two guys showed up an' wasted tha place-"
"Jus' two guys? Was they AG? An' what about Ma?"
The woren shook her head. "Naw, not AG. They spoke foreign an' looked-" her eyes went to Nina and stopped. Her silver jaw dropped. "The, th-th-th- Black-!"
Gray grabbed her cheeks and made her face him, "It ain't whatcha think, don't worry 'bout her, tell me about Ma!"
She looked to Ryu, and dropped her hold on Gray. Snow and sleeping bag bunched up as she kicked herself away from her brother back against the tree her roof was attached to. "Him!" she cried pointing. "Knew I smelled somethin' familiah! Got them yellah peepas too! Caleb what're you doin' with tha Black Wings an' one o' them?"
Gray nodded at his navy haired friend. "Naw, Kit he's fine too, don't worry-"
"Wait, two guys that smell and look like me?" Ryu asked, kneeling down.
Kittah narrowed her eyes at him. "Yous dark like 'em too, 'cept theys had lighta hair..."
Ryu murmured something to himself. Nina's ears caught it and her spirits went to the sky. "Dragons? In this day and time? That's the news we've been waiting for, right?"
Ryu's eyes met Kittah who couldn't seem to tear hers away from him. "Were they wearing strange armor?"
The woren girl swallowed and nodded. The dog nuzzled into her arm. "It had all kinds'a glowin' tubes n' stuff on it. Theys could go invisible, Caleb...what sorta creature can do that?"
"No mistake. It's definitely dragons."
"So let's go find them!"
"What were ya gonna say 'bout, Ma?" Gray pressed, "She's tha only one besides ya I care 'bout in that damn gray cat town, ya know that!"
Kittah finally looked somewhere other than Ryu. "Ma's gone Caleb. B-but it ain't the monsta guys' fault," she added quickly when her brother started to growl. "She was sick ya kno'...passed away a few months back."
The growl stopped. His ears drooped, "...Really?"
"But that ain't what I had ta find ya fo'! Those guys, theys went headin' toward Shyloh's village. I tried ta stop them, but...well ya saw what happened ta me."
Gray's ears flattened back, "Are ya positive?"
She nodded. "I knew ya'd wanna know. Thank the gods I found ya so early too, maybe we can make it befo' anythin' happens."
The silver woren turned to Ryu, didn't hesitate to ask, "Bro, Nina, I got a big fava ta ask of ya."
"No way! I ain't travelin' 'round wit tha Raven Princess an' a damn dragon!" Kittah cried, "Are ya mad? Ya still haven't explained ya'self!"
Nina's hands went to her hips. "I'll have you know, the horrible 'Raven Princess' saved your life."
"No, I saved her life!" Merybel cried, flying in front of Nina.
"Excuse me, you wouldn't have saved anything if I hadn't brought her here!"
Kittah's eyes widened, "Ya kiddin', a real, live faerie? Caleb what's goin' on?"
"Our goal is Drogen in time, but to know other dragons, even dark ones, are so close... I can't ignore it. Allow me some interrogation time with them, and I'll help you all you need."
"Are ya serious, Bro?" Gray cried, breaking a wide smile.
Ryu nodded. Nina made a pshh noise. "You helped with Zeth; what kind of friends would we be otherwise?" she asked waving her hands at Merybel. The faerie slapped them away. Nina grabbed and yanked a handful of pink hair. Ryu moved to separate them, barking sternly to them both.
"It'll mean a lot," Gray said, then faced his wide eyed sister watching the commotion. He took a deep breath, "I kno' its gonna be hard, but I need ya ta sit back an' be quiet fo' a spell, Kittah. I gots lotsa explainin' ta do."
A/N: Wow I really apologize for the wait and for the shortness of this chapter. (short to me lol). Had a little bit of writer's block and then decided to go back and fix old chapters of this to help it flow better and that took longer than anticipated. :( I will be spot patching them in for the next few weeks. I didn't change anything really, just cleaned up Gray's accent, shortened up some of the earlier chapters, and tweaked some dialogue. Thank you so much for all the continued support!
I drew a cover for Benevolent Monsters! (check my profile for a link to my deviantart site) It's only a pencil version though. I want to try to ink it when I get drafting pens. Tell me what you think!